Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble’

See updates through April 28, 2021, at bottom of post.


Fox News is the enemy. Or so I’ve been hearing for a while now.

The claim, in essence—I have repeated this myself—is that as the country has become polarized, we have come to distrust each others’ sources of information and even each others’ motivations.

Donald Trump, for example, is said to trust Fox News even over U.S. intelligence agencies. He calls in to their opinion shows, they amplify what he says, he hears it repeated back to him, and he takes it as confirmation. The picture is of a self-reinforcing feedback loop of misinformation.

I have generally considered Trump to be an authoritarian populist,[1] and one of the hallmarks of this tendency is hierarchically invidious monism,[2] a term coined by Elizabeth Minnich to describe

a system in which one category is taken to be not literally all there is, but the highest, most significant, most valuable, and critically, most real category. This hierarchical monism turns all relevant others into failures, or lesser forms, of the one ‘kind.’[3]

Minnich prefers this term to ‘dualism’ because the latter term critically fails[4] to reflect the preference (much too weak a word) assigned to one side in many such pairings, such as rich versus poor, healthy versus unhealthy, white versus Black, male versus female, and so on.[5]

And so it goes with Fox News. It is alleged that its viewers prefer (again, much too weak a word) it and its vitriol to all other sources of information. The disparagement has become mutual. Even a socially conservative, capitalist libertarian professor I had in my masters’ program regarded Fox News as not really news, to say nothing of how his more liberal colleagues felt about the network.

And it’s not just Fox News. Jason Togyer shows how Facebook has undermined small local newspapers through outsized competition for advertising dollars.[6] But also, quoting at length:

There has been a proliferation of community and neighborhood “news” groups on Facebook. In McKeesport alone, there are at least a dozen competing Facebook groups that claim they’re devoted to community news. White Oak, a neighboring borough, has at least seven, and Glassport, another adjoining municipality, has five.

But in reality, few of them post what would be traditionally considered news. Some consist mainly of lost dog reports, reviews of local diners, funny photos and church announcements. That’s pretty harmless, and even uplifting, if not particularly informative.

Yet increasingly, the content in some “community news” groups reflects the same dangerous tensions and divisions for which Facebook is being blamed for stoking nationally. A few of them traffic in blatant racism. Black teenagers wandering through a mostly white neighborhood will immediately set off posts about “strange people” being seen walking the streets, and reminding residents to “watch your car and lock up your valuables!” 

Misleading information dominates other “news” groups. Throughout the covid-19 pandemic, posts about local businesses requiring customers to wear face masks, for instance, inevitably lead to the same familiar arguments: Yes, face masks do slow the spread of airborne virus particles. No, you cannot get carbon monoxide poisoning from wearing a face mask. Yet both theories have passionate defenders in Facebook’s “community news” groups.[7]

Togyer is brilliant—seriously, he is. His insights in the Columbia Journalism Review’s Year of Fear series have contributed enormously to my understanding of what has happened in the Pittsburgh area in the intervening fifty years since I lived here for a couple years as a kid.

But as I’ve been driving people around,[8] I’ve become skeptical. As a human scientist, one of my areas of emphasis is epistemology: How people ‘know’ what they claim to know. There are many such methods, including scientific method (positivism), religion, tradition, psychology, and so on. It’s my job to recognize these ways of understanding.

And so, we would understand the ‘Fox News bubble’ as a self-reinforcing source of understanding, an authoritarian populist epistemology. But there is something overwrought about it all. In advocating all manner of conspiracy theories, especially surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, some of my passengers have been too vociferous.

It crystallized for me one day when Allegheny County bars were all closed, due to pandemic lockdown restrictions,[9] and I was transporting a couple white men, probably about my age if not a little older, just across the county line to a bar in Westmoreland County. They were convinced, they claimed, that bars were not responsible for an increase in COVID-19 cases (they were, both nationally[10] and in Allegheny County[11]) but that the spike had to be due to anti-racism protests and that bars had been unfairly maligned.

On the one hand this conspiracy theory draws upon a sense of white grievance that denies systemic racism. This grievance has become pronounced in southwestern Pennsylvania due to the collapse of the steel industry.[12] And of course, this ‘theory’ rationalizes those white passengers’ behavior. Pittsburgh has been described to me as “a drinking town with a football problem.” These passengers wanted to go to a bar and get drunk. They justify this behavior by denying reality.

But what impressed me the stridency with which these passengers advanced their claims. It was as if they were seeking to convince themselves even more than they were attempting to convince me. One might even suspect that they wanted me to contribute to this self-reinforcing feedback of misinformation, which of course I refuse to do.

It’s not only been those two passengers and not even just been whites from whom I’ve heard conspiracy theories so stridently advocated. There are suspicions that hospitals are inflating case counts for funding (actually, reported numbers likely undercount the true toll[13]), doubts that COVID-19 is any more serious, really, than the flu, blame on 5G, and so on.

What I’m not hearing here is the quiet confidence of certainty, but rather grievance clutching at straws for sympathy and even attention. That leads me to question the entire narrative about the self-reinforcing feedback of misinformation among conservatives: If, indeed, they are so certain, why are they turning to me for validation?


Update, October 11, 2020:

I think Alice is noticing something similar to what I noticed in the foregoing post.

I had a passenger today (October 11) get into my car in Peters Township, which is just across the line into Washington County. He was very loud, ranting about Black Lives Matter and Antifa, saying something about how 250 of them had allegedly been “turned in.” (I have found no corresponding story about this in the news tonight.)

I remained silent and as he went on, I wondered why he assumed I would approve. Of course, I am white. And of course, I am male. So of course I must support Donald Trump. (I won’t even vote for Democrats, let alone Republicans,[14] but you know, logic just is not an authoritarian populist strength.)

He made those assumptions about my political leanings even as he argued that whites had taken over Black Lives Matter, further compounding his illogic. (I have seen a few demonstrations in support of the cause where the protesters were indeed all white and yes, I do wonder about, to borrow a title from a chapter on this very issue, “the problem of speaking for others.”[15])

But this loudness, this emphatic quality is what leads me to doubt that Trumpsters really believe what they say. At some unacknowledged level, there must be doubt that propels the evangelism, that seeks validation from others.

Update, December 13, 2020:

The Devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal[16]

So there’s this huge problem for Republicans in Georgia because Donald Trump claims he was robbed of election victory through fraud and Trumpsters believe other Republicans have not done enough to “defend” Trump, that is, to overturn the result. The fear is that some Trumpsters will refuse to vote for Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate runoff because they love Trump more than they do Republicans by a whole lot. And of course, that race will determine control of the Senate.[17]

The conventional wisdom, I think, is that this peril is not so great as to actually endanger Republican chances. Certainly, I’ve thought that. Trump himself has endorsed the Republican candidates and urged his supporters to vote for them. But then I hear about this massive rally[18] and this:

“In the first Million MAGA march we promised that if the GOP did not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP,” conservative commentator Nick Fuentes shouted into a megaphone while standing on a stage surrounded by protesters.

“As we gather here in Washington D.C. for a second Million MAGA March, we’re done making promises. It has to happen now. We are going to destroy the GOP,” he continued, to thunderous applause.[19]

And I have to ask myself, are they really so unhinged that they’d let the Democrats take control of the Senate? Given my experience with Trumpsters seeking validation in my back seat,[20] I think my answer is, no, they will rant and rave, very, very, very loudly, scaring the shit out of Republicans who are more focused on retaining control of the Senate. But in the end, they’ll hold their nose and vote for those “Republicans In Name Only” (RINOs). But damn, that’s an impressive rally.

And it turns out that Trump and his followers may well suffer from addiction to grievance,[21] in which,

Although these are new findings and the research in this area is not yet settled, what this suggests is that similar to the way people become addicted to drugs or gambling, people may also become addicted to seeking retribution against their enemies—revenge addiction. This may help explain why some people just can’t let go of their grievances long after others feel they should have moved on—and why some people resort to violence.

It’s worth asking whether this helps explain Trump’s fixation on his grievances and ways of exacting retribution for them. The hallmark of addiction is compulsive behavior despite harmful consequences. [Donald] Trump’s unrelenting efforts to retaliate against those he believes have treated him unjustly (including, now, American voters) appear to be compulsive and uncontrollable. The harm this causes to himself and others is obvious but seems to have no deterrent effect. Reports suggest he has been doing this for much of his life. He seems powerless to stop. He also seems to derive a great deal of pleasure from it. . . .

Like substance addiction, revenge addiction appears to spread from person to person. For instance, inner-city gun violence spreads in neighborhoods like a social contagion, with one person’s grievances infecting others with a desire to seek vengeance. Because of his unique position and use of the media and social networks, Trump is able to spread his grievances to thousands or millions of others through Twitter, TV and rallies. His demand for retribution becomes their demand, causing his supporters to crave retaliation—and, in a vicious cycle, this in turn causes Trump’s targets and their supporters to feel aggrieved and want to retaliate, too.[22]

It occurs to me that the reason I was right, when defending my dissertation, about Trump winning in 2016 was that I correctly perceived authoritarian populist fury and judged that it would overcome lukewarm-at-best support for Hillary Clinton. As Trump became ever more obviously a black hole, I retreated from that prediction, embracing more conventional thinking. The conventional thinking was wrong then. I’m wondering if it is wrong now.


Update, January 9, 2021: Following a riot in which Trumpsters overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to disrupt the final tally of electoral votes,[23] Congress has indeed certified Joe Biden’s victory,[24] the Department of Justice—lest we forget, a part of the executive branch—is investigating the riot and may well press charges, even against the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief who incited it all[25] and who has finally assented to an “orderly transfer of power,”[26] and the Supreme Court rejected Louie Gohmert’s bid to empower Mike Pence to decide which electoral votes to count and which to discard.[27]

Though Donald Trump continues to insist that the election was stolen, he condemned his supporters’ violence in overrunning the Capitol and promised prosecution in “comments that perhaps reflected concern over mounting legal and political hazard rather than a newfound sense of contrition and integrity.” Some Trumpsters feel betrayed.[28] To which I say, what I said before, Dear Trumpsters: Fuck Your Feelings! Others, however, are dipping deeper into the conspiracy sauce, in which Trump allegedly moves in mysterious ways.[29]

In the meantime, due to the violence, Trump has been deprived of his megaphone on social networks. YouTube has taken down some of his videos, Twitter has permanently banned him, and Facebook has suspended his account at least through Biden’s inauguration day.[30]

It might be worth remembering that Trump really couldn’t afford to lose,[31] and now he has.[32] An old cliché is that a cornered, wounded animal is the most dangerous, but in this case, it is not only the wounded animal but a wounded animal who captured the imaginations of right-wing militia groups who may yet pose a threat, which I take up in a blog post entitled, “The danger that remains.”[33] And there is a real question as to what Trump himself does next.


Update, March 29, 2021: In the original post, I thought that Donald Trump’s supporters were really trying too hard really even to convince me, that they must be striving to convince themselves. But there are odd points to consider here.

Closest to home for me, a couple miles away, is the case of the Crack’d Egg Restaurant in Brentwood, which is trying yet again to open without complying with COVID-19 mitigation measures,[34] after having initially remaining open and flaunting their refusal to comply,[35] trying and failing to evade the orders with a bankruptcy filing,[36] closing rather than complying with the rules,[37] trying and finally failing to get an injunction against the order to comply with the rules.[38]

At some point, you kinda have to think surely they’ll win at least one ruling. But it hasn’t happened yet. And really, from Paula Reed Ward’s report,[39] I don’t have the sense that they’ll win this one either. Ward reports that the appellate court judge responded to a series of answers, acknowledging those answers, but not probing further,[40] which I read as a lack of interest in those arguments, which I think has to be a bad sign if you’re the one making those arguments.

In a way, it’s not unlike the case of the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol, seeking to disrupt the final certification of the election results, hoping to keep Donald Trump in power, but really lacking any clear plan for how this attempt might succeed.[41] There’s a point beyond which I am unable to analyze the evidence I perceive: Either people are so persuaded of their beliefs that they think they must surely triumph in the end or they are, even with these examples, attempting to persuade themselves of their righteousness, perhaps through a contest from which they believe they must, in the end, emerge victorious.

I don’t know which it is. What I do know is that following that attempted coup,[42] a lot of Confederate flags and a lot of Trump campaign flags and banners came down around southwestern Pennsylvania. The Confederate flags have remained down, but I’ve been starting to see more campaign flags and banners (and yes, I’m still seeing some for Joe Biden, perhaps in response) come back up, particularly in more rural areas around Pittsburgh. Trump supporters are striving to assert a righteousness, I think, far beyond any hope of success. I think I need a psychologist to understand this.


Update, April 28, 2021: I’m having trouble tracking this down, so it might have been a passenger, likely a nurse, who told me of COVID-19 patients on their deathbeds, still angrily denying COVID-19 and furiously calling their doctors and nurses—people risking their own lives trying to save theirs—idiots, even as they breathe their last.

I wish I had a good answer for the vaccine resistance on the right. I really don’t:

Only now it’s demand [for now-plentiful COVID-19 vaccines] that’s perhaps in short supply. Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who has conducted focus groups to better understand vaccine hesitancy, said [Joe] Biden “has a long way to go” to convince more [Donald] Trump voters to get a shot.

“Biden doesn’t want to thank Trump, just as Trump doesn’t want to thank Biden,” he said. “If they would just compliment each other, lives would be saved.”

A kumbaya moment with Trump isn’t on the Biden administration’s to-do list. Instead officials have been networking with religious leaders and local doctors, hoping that community voices will be the most persuasive.

Lee Riley, chair of the infectious disease and vaccinology division at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, said the administration needs to do more of that, and avoid a “top-down approach” to encouraging vaccines.

“I don’t think they’re doing enough,” he said. “Instead of just talking about it, they really need to start going into the communities.”[43]

I doubt that Frank Luntz is right. It’s awfully, awfully hard to conceive of “thank[ing] Trump” after all the damage the latter did, the huge death toll in the U.S.—569,771 as of last night[44]—he is largely responsible for, with his COVID-19 denial and delusion, even after coming down with COVID-19 himself.[45]

Donald Trump supporters continue to fly their campaign flags around southwestern Pennsylvania, nearly six months after the election and nearly four months after a coup attempting to keep Trump in power;[46] To the extent the rage I see around Pittsburgh is more widespread,[47] I doubt they will listen to anyone besides their own conspiracy theorists.[48]

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  3. [3]Elizabeth Minnich, Transforming Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2005), p. 111.
  4. [4]Elizabeth Minnich, Transforming Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2005).
  5. [5]Lorraine Code, What Can She Know? (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1991); George Lakoff, Moral Politics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  6. [6]Jason Togyer, “How Facebook has undermined communal conversation in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 18, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-chapter-19-facebook-undermined-conversation-in-mckeesport.php
  7. [7]Jason Togyer, “How Facebook has undermined communal conversation in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 18, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-chapter-19-facebook-undermined-conversation-in-mckeesport.php
  8. [8]Due to my failure to obtain gainful employment, I have been reduced to driving for Lyft and Uber: David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  9. [9]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/
  10. [10]Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham, “Dow tumbles 730 points as covid-19 flare-ups force states to push back reopening,” Washington Post, June 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/26/stocks-markets-today-texas-coronavirus/; Claire Lampen, Hannah Gold, and Amanda Arnold, “Everything to Know About the Coronavirus in the United States,” Cut, June 24, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/which-states-have-coronavirus-and-how-do-you-minimize-risk.html; Christina Maxouris, “Officials say states like Arizona and Texas reopened too quickly after soaring Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 6, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  11. [11]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; Andy Sheehan, “Allegheny County Closes Bars, Restaurants, Casinos And All Activities That Involve Over 25 People For One Week,” KDKA, July 2, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-bar-restaurant-casino-closure/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Maria Simbra, “‘It’s Negligence’: Young People Hosting Coronavirus Parties, Betting On Who Gets Infected First,” KDKA, July 3, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/03/coronavirus-parties-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “Allegheny County tops 230 new coronavirus cases,” Tribune-Review, July 2, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-tops-230-new-coronavirus-cases-no-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/; WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253
  12. [12]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php
  13. [13]Emma Brown et al., “U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/27/covid-19-death-toll-undercounted/; Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard, and Aaron C. Davis, “Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count,” Washington Post, April 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/coronavirus-death-toll-americans-are-almost-certainly-dying-of-covid-19-but-being-left-out-of-the-official-count/2020/04/05/71d67982-747e-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html; Denise Lu, “The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000,” New York Times, August 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/12/us/covid-deaths-us.html
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/; David Benfell, “The pandemic as a harbinger,” Not Housebroken, October 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/09/the-pandemic-as-a-harbinger/
  15. [15]Linda Martín Alcott, “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity, Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, eds. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1995), 97-119.
  16. [16]Charlie Daniels et al., “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” MusixMatch, October 5, 2020, https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Charlie-Daniels-Band/The-Devil-Went-Down-to-Georgia-2
  17. [17]Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/
  18. [18]Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  19. [19]Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, October 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  21. [21]James Kimmel, Jr., “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” Politico, December 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570
  22. [22]James Kimmel, Jr., “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” Politico, December 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570
  23. [23]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  24. [24]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  25. [25]Devlin Barrett, “Trump’s remarks before Capitol riot may be investigated, says acting U.S. attorney in D.C.,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/federal-investigation-capitol-riot-trump/2021/01/07/178d71ac-512c-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  26. [26]Allie Malloy and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump pledges ‘orderly’ transition after riot and Biden win certification,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/trump-biden-us-capitol-electoral-college-insurrection/index.html
  27. [27]Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485; John Kruzel, “Supreme Court rejects Gohmert’s last-ditch election suit against Pence,” Hill, January 7, 2021, https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/533161-supreme-court-rejects-gohmerts-last-ditch-election-suit-against
  28. [28]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  29. [29]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  30. [30]Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/; Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html; Nitasha Tiku, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, “Twitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence,” Washington Post, January 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/08/twitter-trump-dorsey/
  31. [31]Dan Alexander, “Trump Will Have $900 Million Of Loans Coming Due In His Second Term If He’s Reelected,” Forbes, October 19, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/19/trump-will-have-900-million-of-loans-coming-due-in-his-second-term-if-hes-reelected/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose
  32. [32]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support; Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  33. [33]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 8, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  34. [34]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/
  35. [35]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  36. [36]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/; Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/
  37. [37]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  38. [38]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg seeks stay to injunction while appeal is heard,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-seeks-stay-to-injunction-while-appeal-is-heard/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/
  39. [39]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/
  40. [40]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg asks court to allow maskless customers in restaurant,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/lifestyles/food-drink/crackd-egg-asks-court-to-allow-maskless-customers-in-restaurant/
  41. [41]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  42. [42]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  43. [43]Chris Megerian, “Biden’s coronavirus success threatened by political divisions he pledged to heal,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-04-27/bidens-coronavirus-success-threatened-by-political-divisions-he-pledged-to-heal
  44. [44]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “COVID Data Tracker,” April 27, 2021, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home
  45. [45]David Benfell, “On wishing the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief well,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/03/on-wishing-the-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief-well/
  46. [46]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  47. [47]David Benfell, “Hate, Pittsburgh Style,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/04/06/hate-pittsburgh-style/
  48. [48]This determination to believe seems stronger than I could have imagined when I suggested that the vociferousness of Donald Trump’s supporters betrays doubt rather than certainty: David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/